Ken Mai, Butoh Dance

Ken Mai, Butoh Dance

Tuesday 28 February 2023
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm

Ashburton Arts Centre


Book here now: £12 full price • £9 or £6 if you prefer – please pay what you can*

For the first part of this performance, Ken Mai will perform his solo dance, The Swan Hymn. For the second, he’ll be joined by musician Roger Hall for a live improvisation.
Butoh dance was created in the 1950s in the turmoil of Japan’s postwar landscape by Tatsumi Hijikata and Kazuo Ohno. It was originally called Ankoku Butoh, the “Dance of Utter Darkness”.

The Swan Hymn/白鳥の賛歌 (Hakuchō no sanka)

This work is inspired by Anna Pavlova’s The Dying Swan. Ken Mai has created an innovative and contemporary feature-length work based on butoh with prayer. The work integrates elements of butoh and classical ballet to create a graceful contrast.
It’s a poetic representation of the surrealistic world where reality and fantasy integrate, expressing anguish, joy, love, death, hymn, and a sacred phenomenon with the mythical elements of swans that unfold between life and death. It draws in space gracefully. The moment when beauty and ugliness overlap and darkness and lightness integrate, leading the soul to eternal ecstasy.
Ken Mai “Vigyan Bhairav” by Hugo Angel G at Chile International Butoh Festival 2018

Ken Mai is a Japanese international Butoh artist, yogi, choreographer, and teacher based in Helsinki, Finland. He has performed and taught in more than 30 countries. He studied with legendary Butoh founder Kazuo Ohno and he was also a member of the Sub Rosa Butoh Company, which was connected to the Byakkosha Butoh Company at the beginning of the ’90s in Kyoto, Japan. At the same time, he was a member of a well-known Eguchi & Sumiko modern dance company (German expressionist dance) in Osaka, Japan. Before and while doing Butoh, he seriously practiced Zen Meditation at a Zen Monastery in Kyoto, Japan for 16 years and short term at Sri Chinmoy Meditation Centre in Kyoto, Japan. He also studied and researched the Veda scriptures, tantrism, yoga philosophy, Hinduism, Buddhism, and mysticism. His background is in gymnastics, The Laban school in London, ballet, acting, music (rock drums, singing opera), martial arts (Wing Chun Kung Fu), shiatsu, Tibetan massage, and yoga. He has certified ancient Hatha yoga teacher training at Patanjali International Yoga Foundation in Rishikesh, India.

Roger Hall (photo: Harriet Roberts)

Roger Hall has become a performing musician later in life than most. He discovered musical improvisation while living in Edinburgh. Initially he played three large gongs, and then he started to learn to play the double bass. When he moved to South Devon a few years ago, he joined improv sessions in Dartingon, and then initiated a regular session every Sunday at Ashburton Arts Centre in October 2021. The original aim was not to perform for audiences, just to enjoy the sessions. Eventually this changed, and in January 2023h formed RhOME (Roger Hall Open Music Ensemble) which gave its first performance here a Ashburton Arts Centre on 13 January 2023.

More about Butoh dance

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